William E. Spriggs

William E. Spriggs is a professor of economics at Howard University. He served as assistant secretary for policy in Obama’s Labor Department and was executive director of the National Urban League’s Institute for Opportunity and Equality. 

Recent Articles

Why the White Worker Theme Is Harmful

It’s a mistake to racialize an economy that harms the entire working class.

AP Photo/Julio Cortez
This article appears in the Summer 2017 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here . “After all, if every economic issue is framed as a struggle between a hard-working white middle class and undeserving minorities, then workers of all shades will be left fighting for scraps while the wealthy withdraw further into their private enclaves.” —Barack Obama, Farewell Address, Chicago, January 2017 After three losses to Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, a trifecta last accomplished by Presidents Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover, there was much hand-wringing among Democrats about the loss of the South and the vanishing loyalty of Southern whites. William Galston and Elaine Kamarck at the Progressive Policy Institute argued that the electoral math made the South the true presidential battleground; that Democrats could not win by being more liberal or hoping to motivate black and poor voters to increase their voter participation. Thomas Edsall and Mary Edsall...